This tragedy has the eerie feel of a Jim Jones-David Koresh type of movie, and the ending can certainly be compared to those past fiascos.
Published news reports say a total of 89 bodies have been recovered from mass graves in a forest in eastern Kenya, the bodies of those thought to be followers of a Christian cult who believed they would go to heaven if they starved themselves.
Kenya's National Police tweeted Monday evening that more than 50 bodies were exhumed from shallow graves. CNN reported that "Paul Mackenzie Nthege, the leader of the cult known as the Good News International Church, was arrested after police received a tip-off that his vast land on the Shakahola forest in the Kilifi County of eastern Kenya, contained mass graves."
Police rescued 29 people in the process, but they said that not all of those found wanted to be rescued because they were so convinced they were doing what was necessary before the world ended.
Hussein Khalid, who runs the rights organization Haki Africa, said a woman who looked to be in her late 20s did not want to be helped.
"When we tried to administer first aid to give her sips of water with glucose with a spoon, she completely refused. She sealed her mouth shut and she was signifying that she doesn't want any help," Khalid said, adding that the woman was now being treated in a hospital.
Another man in his 40s said "he didn't need any saving, and that he was in his senses and he knows what he's doing and he should be left alone," Khalid said. "He even called us enemies of him going to heaven."
At least this cult leader and deceiver did not get away from authorities.
In the 1993, Koresh, the head of the religious sect Branch Davidians, an offshoot of the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventists, claimed to be a prophet and led a 51-day standoff with the FBI and ATF. This resulted in the Waco, Texas massacre where over 80 people would lose their lives.
Jones was a deceiver and a communist false prophet. After leading many of his followers to a camp in Guyana, Jones, a Christian preacher, orchestrated a mass murder-suicide in 1978 after American leaders threatened to come in and shut it all down. More than 900 people died in that tragic incident, including Jones and his family.
The BBC reported that Khalid took authorities to the grave sites at the end of last week after being tipped of by locals.
"The stench is unbearable," Hussein told the BBC.
Kenya is a profoundly religious county with 85% of the population identifying as Christian, the BBC reported. Interior Minister Kithure Kindiki called what has happened a "massacre."
Shawn A. Akers is the online editor at Charisma Media.
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